The Frick Collection debuted its temporary home at 945 Madison Avenue, the former site of the Whitney Museum of American Art and Met Breuer, in spring 2021. Frick Madison will be open to the public throughout the planned renovation of the Frick’s historic mansion on 70th Street. Selldorf Architects collaborated closely on the installation with Xavier F. Salomon, Deputy Director and Peter Sharp Chief Curator, and Aimee Ng, Curator, of the Frick Collection, and exhibition designer Stephen Saitas.
At Frick Madison, the museum’s Old Master paintings, European sculpture and decorative arts stand powerfully on their own within the iconic, mid-60s building designed by architect Marcel Breuer. The installation approach brings a fresh point of view confirming how art can be enlivened by a new context.
Breuer’s open-floor plans provided the framework for the new design comprised of temporary walls that are virtually floor-to-ceiling and more than a foot thick, establishing the feeling of real rooms. The new walls were arranged to accommodate carefully considered views between the galleries as they also define a clear counterclockwise circulation flow on each floor.
The collection—exhibited on the second, third and fourth levels—is organized chronologically and by region, beginning on the second floor. Each floor opens with works of sculpture to immediately greet and orient the visitor. Higher ceilings on the fourth floor dictated placement of certain works, including the final room that presents the four paintings of Jean-Honoré Fragonard’s “Progress of Love” series together for the first time in the Frick’s history.
A defining moment for Frick Madison is the display of Giovanni Bellini’s “St. Francis in the Desert,” one of the museum’s most prized works. The team dedicated a room for this singular work in a chapel-like setting, with a small window and bench creating a contemplative and reverential space. Frick Madison also offers the Frick Art Reference Library and Reading Room, lower-level café with views of the sculpture court, staff offices and museum storage.
(Photography credits: Joe Coscia, Courtesy of The Frick Collection)